MALDEF Studies Unconstitutional Aspects of New Cherokee County Anti-Immigrant Ordinance

Warns against premature implementation of the new ordinance or increased immigration checks

CANTON, GA – In response to action taken last night by the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners to penalize landlords who fail to verify the immigration status of new tenants and to make English the county’s “official” language, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) conferred with local leaders to prepare for the next phase of the debate. MALDEF has recently filed lawsuits against the cities of Valley Park, Missouri and Escondido, California that have passed similarly discriminatory and unconstitutional ordinances.

MALDEF warned against premature implementation of the new ordinance. “The Cherokee County ordinance does not go into effect until 2007. Passage of the ordinance gives county officials or landlords no additional authority to ask any individual about their immigration status or to deny housing or to threaten eviction because of immigration status. Any such incidents should be reported to the Atlanta MALDEF office,” stated Isaiah Delemar, Acting Southeast Regional Counsel.

The law will impose a great burden on landlords and tenants in Cherokee County and lead to discrimination against Latino prospective tenants. Landlords are likely to want to avoid any involvement with this process and avoid renting to anyone who might, because of their appearance or accent, be thought to be an immigrant.

“Every state or federal court that has examined ordinances similar to what Cherokee County passed has kept them from going into effect. We expect the Cherokee County ordinance to meet the same fate. Cherokee County cannot have its own immigration policy any more than it can have its own military or foreign policy. It is a job for the federal government,” added MALDEF President and General Counsel John Trasviña.

The County also passed a resolution to join the SAVE federal program targeting illegal immigrants.

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Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund